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Pokemon Go Ahead or Pokemon Go Away? The Pokecharms.com Review

  1. Doctor Oak

    Staff Member Overlord

    gologo.jpg
    Does Pokemon Go fulfil its lofty promises? Or should it just Pokemon Go Away?
    When Pokemon Go was announced last year, it perhaps wasn't really the Pokemon game we were all sitting around waiting to be announced (which if you had asked any of us at the time, was 100% going to be a Pokemon Z style game to follow on from X and Y). Now, after nearly a year of not really explaining all that much about what the game would actually be like, millions of players have gotten the chance to experience it for themselves first hand for the past week (mostly illicitly so far thanks to a frustratingly slow global roll out).

    Its success is definitely in no question. For the first time in about 15 years, everyone is talking about Pokemon again and it's already the most successful mobile game ever released in the US and has surpassed install numbers of LinkedIn and Tinder - with even Twitter firmly in its sights. $14million has already been generated in just one week from a 'free' game - all indicating that one way or another, The Pokemon Company has gotten it right.

    To leave it there, though, would be a disservice to both critical thought and to those making the game, because regardless of its success in its current form, Pokemon Go is far from a success of User Interface/Experience design, fully featured gameplay or of being respectably bug free.

    We'll not dwell too much on the state of the server situation - which has at least been improving even as the delayed roll out has worn on - but it does highlight perhaps an ignorance of the value of the Pokemon IP on Niantic's part to have not expected such an immediate response upon launch. The global roll out itself has not been much of a success story, either and is hampered further by a somewhat King Canute-like response to the ease with which those countries can access the game anyway by downloading the Android APK file and insisting that the sea of interest simply damned-well wait until they feel good and ready for it to sweep in at last.

    1iJz1.png
    The Pokemon Nearby feature is the topic of many Internet posts in how it actually works - most of which are entirely contradictory...

    In terms of UI/UX, the app is a bit of a disaster. The Internet is already full of attempts, corrections and new attempts to try and understand the interface because it's neither intuitive enough nor prefaced with an adequate introduction to actually grok what it wants on your own. Key case in point being the 'nearby Pokemon' tab, which has seen multiple 'hot tip' posts across the Web, almost all of them contradicting one another in how it actually works. Other massive frustrations include:

    • A lack of intuitiveness when it comes to stuff like that first time you try and use an incense - and the item simply dances on screen until you work out it wants you to tap it again - or, in fact, what an incense actually does as the game does nothing by itself to tell you of the fact that it will make a Pokemon spawn before you every 5 minutes.
    • The first attempt at defeating a Gym, where literally none of it is explained in-game, including how to actually participate in the battle; what the blue markers under your Pokemon's second move actually mean; or the fact that defeating a gym with multiple Pokemon in it once will knock one of those Pokemon out of the gym, requiring you/other team members to defeat it enough times to remove all Pokemon to claim it yourself.
    • How to use a Pokestop for the first time, which you'll basically find out simply by thumbing at the screen like a moron until something happens.
    • The fact that the screen must remain on and the app open for both Pokemon to spawn AND for eggs to count your distance travelled, which contributes to the other major issue with the game - the fact that it will completely empty your battery.
    So much of the game is a mystery up front until you try something, or read something online, and the intended result finally happens. This is not how good UX works and it's a bit of a shock to see a game so heavily invested in by Nintendo and using one of their biggest IPs come out in such a state - which absolutely wouldn't happen if it were a Nintendo-published game.

    All these points will frustrate you at first, but once you get used to them they'll become less of an issue. It doesn't absolve the lack of attention to detail or ignorance of the user experience, but it does at least mean it isn't a deal breaker.

    Somewhat of larger significance, though, is the general lack of features that the game really should have. Even Niantic in a recent interview about the game said that trading Pokemon was definitely coming to the app in a future update because it's such a core part of the Pokemon series. Just, apparently not core enough to have actually been in the consumer-released version of the app... The reason for this lack of features is pretty obvious, though. Its name is Ingress. The game that gave life to Niantic after being an initial experiment within Google weighs heavily over Pokemon Go - not least because at this stage, in this released version, Go is simply the minimum viable product after the basic process of reskinning Ingress into a Pokemon flavour.


    The original Pokemon Go trailer, which... somewhat embellishes reality

    Another noose around their neck from its origins as Ingress is that all the Pokestop and Gym data - and seemingly the data for where Pokemon are likely to spawn - is based entirely off of the data that Ingress players submitted as locations for portals and as such focuses primarily on the main city areas where Ingress found its popularity. For those of us not living in the those areas, the amount of Pokestops, Gyms and even Pokemon to encounter are all pretty low and have a detrimental impact on playing the game. It also leads to a somewhat amusing contradiction where Pokemon are primarily found in heavily urban areas, while being extremely sparse out in the open country. Niantic are now accepting suggestions for new Pokestop and Gym locations, but this is not a problem that can be solved quickly and in the meantime it leaves a lot of players in worse positions than others simply by where they live. It's an unfortunate consequence of being a game so closely tied to where you are in the real world, but you can't help but feel that it could have been mitigated against somewhat by focusing more on logical algorithms of the Google Maps data instead of exclusively the crowd-sourced content of Ingress.

    And then, of course, there are the bugs. And I don't just mean Caterpie and Weedle (though there are an endless amount of those as well). Whether it's the servers causing the issues, or simply the software itself being flawed, the amount of issues you will run into with this game are far too high for a game with the Pokemon name attached to it to really be acceptable. Frequently, the game will entirely freeze and require you to completely exit and restart - including when you're trying to catch a Pokemon, which can lead to an incredibly frustrating scenario of finally finding a new Pokemon you were looking for only for the game to cheat you out of your capture. The GPS doesn't seem to work reliably, with the game often not updating your location until long after you've moved on past the Pokestop you wanted to catch on you way to somewhere and there are multiple graphical issues that range from being an outright glitch to simply a lack of attention to detail - such as a Pokemon ending up halfway off the top of the screen after the evolution animation completes.

    In all, the game simply feels incomplete - because it obviously is. Even the version number is 0.29 - in other words, effectively an open beta, even if they won't call it one. It's disappointing that they felt that this was the version of the product that they should be openly releasing to the public and I'd like to hope that it doesn't indicate a lack of care and attention that will dog the support for the app through its life, but it isn't exactly a great start.


    A key factor of the app's success is its inherent social currency - something a lot of businesses are capitalising on already

    What they do get right, however, is the appeal of Augmented Reality in gaming in general - which is unquestionably the key point behind its success. The direct relation to your real world location may have its downsides, but it also leads to unique situations such as groups of players encountering a rare Pokemon in the same location - crossing over from the virtual realm into the real world so as to make it such that the Pokemon really is there, regardless of whether you can see it beyond the bezels of your phone. The augmented reality capture mechanic - showing the Pokemon appearing within the real world in front of you by using your phone's camera - has also led to an incredible virulence of the app by its so shareable nature. Who can resist seeing a Meowth dancing around Red Bull's F1 factory, or a Pikachu running around outside of 10 Downing Street as if it really is there - because to all those involved, it actually really is.

    I will be the first to admit that I was extremely sceptical of Pokemon Go's promises when they were first made nearly a year ago with an extremely exaggerated trailer of what the game would deliver. With knowledge in hand of what Ingress was capable of and the (apparently correct) assumptions that the game wouldn't deviate far beyond it, it seemed like a reality train was headed straight for a collision course with most people's (also extremely exaggerated) expectations of what the game would be. Most surprisingly of all, that collision seems to have been avoided entirely, and the train has simply continued on to its next stop unburdened. The game doesn't deliver on the original impossible promises and I think it's safe to say that the most excited expectations of the game from last year haven't been met - but that key hook of wanting to catch 'em all, the augmented reality components and what social features exist within the framework of the game so far combine to deliver a gameplay experience that has not only got the attention of the Pokemon fans that have followed it through from announcement, but for the first time since the end of the 90s when Pokemon Red and Blue were released worldwide, the whole mainstream world's attention once again.

    So despite its flaws, there's absolutely no question that Pokemon Go has achieved what it set out to do, and probably much more beyond it. Pokemon Sun and Moon will inevitably be much better games, but as far as a celebration of Pokemon in its 20th anniversary, it's hard to argue with Go as being the winner simply for reigniting that fire in the rest of the world by appealing both to nostalgia of a series most adults my age will have at least been aware of as young teenagers and children AND for tapping into a real thirst for games that break the walls between reality and the virtual world in an ever growing market for both Virtual and Augmented reality experiences. The sheer social nature of the game pushes its own virulence in the same way that we saw in school in the 90s when everybody brought their Gameboys together to trade and battle.

    Now the real question becomes just how far can Niantic and The Pokemon Company really take this game and if they can both capitalise and deliver on the wider interest it has gathered in a way that really matters for the franchise. The answer to that, hopefully, will be yes, but perhaps it'll be worth seeing where we stand a year from now to truly assess the success of this experiment.
     
    #1 Doctor Oak, Jul 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016

Comments

Discussion in 'Pokécharms News' started by Doctor Oak, Jul 15, 2016.

    1. Zamcio
      Zamcio
      Things missing in PGO for me at the moment:
      - battling other people
      - trading Pokemon
      Excluding these (and sever and app issues) it is pure gold for me. ALSO - if your phone doesn't have a gyroscope (like mine), you can forget about AR :(
    2. alolatrainer
      alolatrainer
      the teams are cool to me...but I think people are taking them a bit to far like they cant handle it or something...this is a game...not some kind of gang to hate other people outside of your team
    3. Midnight Heart
      Midnight Heart
      Sounds like pokemon go would be a good game. Someone told me that people use it to break into people's houses or cause them to break into houses though. That would probably make pokemon go bad.
    4. Doctor Oak
      Doctor Oak
      [​IMG]
      Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
    5. The Voltagonist
      The Voltagonist
      I, for one, have been a bit frustrated with the app here in the Americas. Been taking things relatively slow, but I have noticed a few notable problems with the app already. Such problems that I have personally experienced are as follows:

      - Constant server crashes. (as would be expected, so not much of a new topic there in the slightest)
      - Old location mapping. (an area on my campus is shown as a Pokestop, but the specific Pokestop landmark was removed 3 years ago; not sure if it was the app's fault on that one, but it would be nice for it to be more accurate, as seeing it may be doing that for other areas)
      - A thrown Pokeball will refuse to shake, and will stay this way, and as restarting the app entirely is apparently the only way to get things back to normal. (though, 90% of the time the Pokemon seems to have been captured, so that's an upside, I guess?)
      - My GPS location can often be relatively inaccurate, throwing my avatar all over the place, no matter what my LTE connection level is or how powerful my signal is.
      - The battle system entirely. TAP FASTER TO NOT GET REKT AS HARD SOMETIMES!!!

      Aside from these issues, I have been relatively enjoying Pokemon GO in a whole. Though, without a doubt, they definitely need to spiffy up the app.
      AzureEdge and Psycho Monkey like this.
    6. Shiny Lyni
      Shiny Lyni
      I think my favorite thing about Go is that it's allowed my friends who never were into Pokemon to the franchise (aka people who weren't into the anime, manga, or games). The game is lacking, definitely, but that definitely hasnt stopped all my friends and I from enjoying the game.

      Only real reason why I'm not as into the game as I can be is because I don't have internet connection everywhere and the game guzzles my battery like no other, but other than that I'm really glad for what it does have so far and also what it's done for my friends and I.
    7. Aura
      Aura
      So, I changed up my phone plan a bit so I could play about two days ago, and it's really obvious how buggy the game is already. The radar in particular is a pain. I've had situations where a rare Pokemon has appeared on the radar, I walk for an hour and end up in a completely different part of town yet the distance never changes. Or there's literally nothing on the radar yet Pokemon will constantly appear anyway. It's horribly unreliable. And there's this weird visual glitch (?) where the colour of the Pokemon is noticeably lighter around their eyes and mouth and it drives me nuts. Eevee in particular is the worst offender. Plus a million other problems that have already been mentioned.

      Having said all that, there's something kind of magical about walking through town late at night and seeing heaps of people enjoying playing Pokemon. Seeing parents teaching their kids about it, groups of people trying to take down gyms together, random strangers chatting to other randoms... It's nice. It makes mundane things like getting the groceries suddenly really fun. So, as it's been pointed out, the way the games been executed is rather terrible, but the core ideas are so good it works anyway. Still needs some serious polishing though.
    8. AzureEdge
      AzureEdge
      I have to say, I've ended at the weirdest of places ever since I've got this game, and the hype I once had is slowly fading due to the game's bugginess and incompleteness. Of course, when the game loads, the game is amazing, and seeing other players chatting often is amazing, so there is always benefits to the game. Going outside seems fun now, haha.
      I personally can't wait for trading and battling, and when they get installed along with the other generations, the game will be really worth it.
    9. Psycho Monkey
      Psycho Monkey
      I may not have the game, but I can still relate from going Pokemon hunting with my brother every night. I've witnessed its awesomeness as well as all of its glitches from server crashes to not finding a desired Pokemon. The range you can find any Pokemon on your radar is supposedly a radius 1km yet the other night there was just no finding a Magmar no matter how far we traveled. Still, there is no denying that the popularity of Go is truly the resurgence of Pokemania from the late 90s. There is just something magical sitting around the lunch table with my coworkers catching Water-types. Or rather I bring my 3DS to play Pokemon with them then tease them when I catch something rare in Go like an Onix. The Aquarium even has its own Gym run by one of our own hosting a CP1370 Gyarados thanks to the abundance of Magikarp in the area. Most of my coworkers are Team Valor with a few Instinct in the mix. I personally consider myself a pseudo-Mystic since Articuno has been my favorite Legendary Bird since I knew it existed.
      AzureEdge likes this.
    10. _Umbreon_
      _Umbreon_
      Ugh. only problem for is that you need a constant internet connect to play. Where I have a IPod 5 this comes as a nuisance at times. And it often has a hard time loading a map around me , which I have to flip up the option tab several times.
    11. Jeydis
      Jeydis
      I have been having a great time with it so far even through the considerable amount of restarts. Overall the server has been much more stable for me from Monday on. Now the only time I have to restart it is due to glitches which I am sure will stabilize very soon.

      For me it's all about collecting more-so than the battling. I find the gym level up system frustrating and the combat even worse in it's current state. It needs some pretty sturdy rework in that area but overall the wandering around and catching things is working really well and has been really fun to partake in.

      On the technical side: I was happy to see the app not be as bad of a data hog as many expected. I have 2 gigs of data for the month and have yet to hit the halfway mark with over a week of pretty constant play, on and off WiFi connections. The battery usage is pretty drastic though but I am fine with that since I have 2 batteries to switch between while one is charging.

      I have been enjoying the exploring most of all, the pokestops for Montreal have been really fun to visit as they consist of a lot of art murals and sculptures, as well as great little parks I never knew existed.

      I have walked more in the last week then I feel I have in the last month. It has given my bf and I a really fun way to break our routine of sleep, work, home.

      So far I would give it a solid 7/10 for the experience if anything. Worth the investment for a secondary battery.

      PS: I have not experienced the droves of people I have seen on Youtube since the app is not officially out in Canada yet but I have made a few random friends at the local parks! :D
      The Voltagonist and baratron like this.
    12. Carmen Lopez
      Carmen Lopez
      Yep, the game is a beta and it shows. Just today my husband ended up coming upon a hilarious glitch that turned the entire screen black with just the Pokemon in the middle. I kinda thought it looked like Darkrai using Dark Void. A part of me wishes there was more caching so the game doesn't have to speak to the server for everything, but I don't want to see what that would do to my memory.

      However, I've seriously been having fun playing despite the bugginess. I live in Baton Rouge so LSU is a fantastic place to play. Pokestops everywhere, lots of people to talk to about the game, and gyms galore. And let's not even get into the turf wars between Valor, Mystic, and Instinct (I'm #TeamValor). Everyone is talking about Pokemon and I never thought I'd see that again. I've come across some Genwunners of course, but the majority of people are looking forward to more Pokemon being released. Some have even forgotten that stuff like Umbreon, Kingdra, Crobat are Gen II and not Gen I.

      One of my biggest points of contention: Eevee. Why on earth is the evolution completely random? I rounded up enough candy for a second evolution hoping to get a Jolteon. Nope, another Flareon. I guess that's for the non-beta update too.
    13. baratron
      baratron
      I don't have the game yet, but I was watching my friends play yesterday. It seems that if you're walking around on public WiFi and get out of the range of the signal, so your phone has to switch back to mobile data, that the game resets and you lose the Pokemon you were about to catch. What "fun"!

      The Pokemon in central London are absolutely amazing though. Niantic have taken basically every landmark imaginable, including some which are not very famous, and put something appropriate on each. You could use the game to learn more about your local area. Unfortunately, I bet a lot of people won't even notice that the Doduo is hopping around on the A Conversation with Oscar Wilde statue, let alone go on to find out who Oscar Wilde was. Ah well.
    14. AliTheDarkTrainer
      AliTheDarkTrainer
      Yeah its much worse than that here in the states, people have been arrested for tresspassing, two people found a loaded gun, someone even found A DEAD BODY!!!, people have been getting hurt, and my mom saw someone almost get run over by a car, its all over the news that people don't listen to the disclaimer, and it also said that two guys went over a restricted fence and fell off a cliff. Things aren't looking too good for this game so far...
    15. Corion
      Corion
      Great review. I haven't been able to play the game myself (woohoo iPhone 4s), but people come in all the time playing it when I'm at work. The economical statistics are also higher than I expected, which hopefully will impact the franchise in a positive way for us consumers.
    16. Teapot
      Teapot
      14 million dollars in revenue in the US alone, and a good week of free publicity in all the major news outlets is definitely looking pretty good to me...
    17. Tailon
      Tailon
      Honestly it feels like a big problem seems to be an over reliance on keeping the servers updated with every tiny process. It seems pointless to load on every Poké Ball shake rather than just running that process client side and then sending the success or failure flag back to the server.
      The Voltagonist likes this.
    18. phoenixacezero
      phoenixacezero
      What the plot- a gimack
    19. KAnaliseY
      KAnaliseY
      Trading is a huge one!! I'm so disappointed...

      I was at a swim meet, and I saw a kid almost fall into the water playing PokemonGO. That's scary...
      Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2016
      Zamcio likes this.
    20. Psycho Monkey
      Psycho Monkey
      If you ask me, anyone who gets hurt playing Pokemon Go brought it upon themselves. The disclaimer warns players to remain vigilant and be mindful of their surroundings. Anyone foolish enough to wander into traffic, travel alone at night, or anything else that would do them harm would have done so anyway at some point without Pokemon to blame. Really it's just natural selection at work.
    21. Razpup
      Razpup
      I think this game is really fun but has a lot of flaws, also. Sometimes it will stop registering me tapping, forcing me to quit.
    22. Keleri
      Keleri
      Pokemon Go is the buggiest, most frustrating game I've ever been unable to put down. @_@ Someone's going to get killed over the Pokemon Go Plus dongle and people will get stampeded whenever Mewtwo is released, just wait.
    23. Secad MS
      Secad MS
      For what it is, the game's okay. It's no where near the level of 'social' Ingress was, where you had to coordinate hardcore, but the Pokemon paint on it is good enough for me (if only they fixed the bugs...). It's just fun to see people happy playing through part of their childhood. I run into people on campus and one out of two times a phone is out during the day, they're on Go. It's almost 100% at night. :p
    24. Onebrickyboi
      Onebrickyboi
      i saw someone wander into an army base and i saw someone run into a telephone pole
    25. Gustavo Paredes
      Gustavo Paredes
      I've been playing Pokemon Go for a while and hardly walked mainly because they came to me. So it's been more like Pokemon Come then Pokemon Go for me.
    26. KoL
      KoL
      Even by beta standards, Pokemon Go is a complete mess. It crashes constantly, the "gameplay" contains more glitch than game, if I didn't know any better I'd have assumed this was Version -0.29 rather than 0.29.

      It might be good in about 2 years when they actually finish making it, but until then I really don't know why people like it so much. Any other game pulling this nonsense would have been torn to pieces for it.
    27. Onebrickyboi
      Onebrickyboi
      yeah sometimes it is better to wait then to dive in head first

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